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How to use reverse psychology to persuade, in 5 steps

How to use reverse psychology to persuade, in 5 steps

July 18, 2024

Reverse psychology is one of the concepts linked to the psychological that more fame have reaped at the popular level. You do not have to be a university graduate to have ever heard, even superficially, what this type of resource is especially used in persuasion.

However, it is one thing to know what and another very different thing is to master the how. And the idea that reverse psychology is basically asking for one thing to get the opposite done is totally fallacious. If this worked in that way, no society would exist or could not be sustained, because our lives collectively are based on making requests constantly, delegate tasks, give orders, etc.


In the following lines we will see just basic and fundamental ideas about how to use reverse psychology in persuasion processes .

  • Related article: "Persuasion: definition and elements of the art of convincing"

How to use reverse psychology?

Going to the essentials, we can define inverse psychology as a process by which we increase the chances of a person or group getting involved in a task by communicating a frame of reference through which it is indicated that they should do the opposite. That means that it is not simply to give an order for others to do actions that are opposed to it, but to work with the roles of each person and the expectations that are at stake.


Fundamentally, reverse psychology is to shift people's attention to one aspect of the situation that reasons to behave in a way apparently opposed to the one that suggests who has released that information. Create the impression that there has been a communication error, in short, that shows clearly which option is preferable and which is not.

Using reverse psychology or not doing so depends on a series of moral considerations that depend on the context . For example, if it implies giving false information, its moral implications will not be the same as if you work at all times with objectively correct information. The fact that what is said to be true or false goes beyond the concept of reverse psychology, something independent of it.

That said, let's see how to use this strategy of persuasion step by step.


1. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the action you want to promote

The action option that you would like to be chosen by the other person (or by the group of people you will address) has necessarily advantages and disadvantages .

So, start by distinguishing these positive and negative aspects to be able to take them into account at all times. When using reverse psychology, you must create a framework in which at least one of these advantages is clearly presented and the possibility of thinking about the disadvantages is discouraged. For example, going to the gym has the advantages of offering a habit that makes us feel good, improves our health and reinforces our self-esteem, but it requires physical effort and costs money.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Reverse psychology: is it really useful?"

2. Discover a frame of reference that can be attractive

Based on what you know about the person or people you are going to address, think about those aspects of the action you want to promote that may be more attractive . For example, in the case of going to the gym, this element may be the fact of being more fit and have the admiration of other people to see their progress.

3. Plan from what role are you going to speak

This is important, since one of the keys to knowing how to use reverse psychology is to take into account that part of its power is based on assuming a role that the other person should oppose, but not from hostility . That is, we must embody something that represents a "category" in which, right away, the other person does not feel included or even opposed.

For example, this can be done even when talking to a friend if we take as reference any of the characteristics in which we differentiate ourselves or oppose ourselves . Something that illustrates it well would be to take advantage of the role of "elder brother", although speaking from his face not so fraternal as a regulator of the behavior of those in his care. If we imply that an older brother is not a perfect machine to define what is best for his younger brothers or sisters, it is easy to generate this subtle transitory antagonism.

4. Offer the option you want to promote as if it were a temptation

Working from the previous step, create a frame of reference for the conversation that makes it clear that you speak from that role in which your interlocutor or your interlocutors are not included and can easily have conflicting interests.

So, introduce the idea of ​​carrying out the action you want to promote making it look tempting but at the same time not recommended from the point of view of the role from which you speak (and towards whom the listener has an antagonistic predisposition from the beginning). That is, not recommended from a dysfunctional logic or meaningless unless you embrace a role that does not feel like own.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Cognitive distortions: 7 ways the mind sabotages us"

5. Use a false dichotomy

So that the action you want to promote attracts more attention, you can use a false dichotomy. Speak as if there were two possible options: choose that option or, on the contrary, another that apparently you recommend, the latter only because you speak from a certain role. A) Yes, it is not even necessary to focus on seemingly attacking what you are actually encouraging to do , but you can focus on praising the qualities and advantages of the other option, in a way that is not attractive to others.


How to Use Psychology to Persuade and Manipulate People (July 2024).


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